The last stop on our Peru journey was Machu Picchu.
I’ve dreamed about seeing this legendary place for a very long time.
It far exceeded my expectations: I was truly astounded by the beauty, mystery, and spiritual significance of the site.
Known as “The Lost City of the Incas”, no one knows exactly when or why MP was built. Construction of the buildings is thought to have been completed in the mid-15th century (and the area was apparently abandoned about one hundred years later). Fortunately for us, MP was not discovered nor destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores. The remote location and the surrounding jungle “hid” the site for many years: only locals knew about it until 1911. If you are interested in learning about how MP came to be known to the world, I recommend the book Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu. I read it on my phone while we were traveling in Peru and I really enjoyed it.
MP is situated on a mountain ridge, high above the funky (tiny!) town of Aguas Calientes. Unless you are hiking the Inca Trail (a 4 day experience), MP is accessible only by buses that chug up an extremely windy road. Note that MP is not at very high altitude, though: you do not experience discomfort here the way you might in and around Cuzco.
Maddie and I spent an afternoon exploring MP with a guide, then we went back the next morning and walked around on our own. We lucked into wonderful weather on both days that we visited. It rains frequently at MP, and this is evident in the lushness of the landscape, but it did not rain on us.
The views of the misty mountains on all sides, and the Urubamba river below, were stunning:
The stonework is positively magnificent:
And we really got a kick out of the sweet alpacas and llamas that wander the grounds:
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Peru (and Machu Picchu), GO! Feel free to shoot me an email if you need any advice planning your trip…I will try to help :)